The Psychology of the Sunday Scaries (and How to Deal With Them)

Welcome to our series #SaveOurSundays, where we tackle the Sunday Scaries and anxieties about the workweek head on. Check back every week to learn how to take back your weekend and start your Monday on a better note.

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Photo:

Original Illustration by Haobin Ye

It always starts in my stomach. A tightness that slowly escalates into a somersault—and then another and another. Often, my mind then starts to race through a to-do list that unfurls at a faster and faster clip until it's just a blur of "should" and "need to" and "don't forget." Other times, it's just the kind of inexplicable melancholy usually reserved for late summer sunsets and specific song lyrics. These are my Sunday Scaries, and we've gotten to know each other very well throughout my lifetime.

Enough of us experience these pangs of anxiety for the Sunday Scaries to have earned a place in our cultural lexicon. It's a meme we all rally around, thumbing our Instagram feeds in bed as Monday looms. I'd even argue that we accept it as a simple truth of adulthood, like taxes and long lines at the DMV. While I don't experience the Sunday Scaries nearly as much as I used to, I've observed that no matter how much I love my job or dread the week ahead, I'm never totally immune to that telltale churning feeling.

The truth is, science tells us not just that it's a very real phenomenon but that it's an avoidable one at that. "[The] Sunday Scaries is really just a form of anticipatory stress," says New York–based psychologist Heather Silvestri, Ph.D. She argues that while it's easy to fall into the trap of seeing the week as a series of chores, lessening that sense of trepidation might just come down to an attitude adjustment. Learn how to approach it below.